May 26, 2010
Mr. Mitt Winstead
Dear Mr. Winstead:
Thank you for contacting me regarding border security and immigration reform. This is one of the most critical issues facing the people of Arizona and I appreciate knowing your views and for the opportunity to explain my position.
The violence along our southern border is increasing and impeding everyday life and the peace of mind of our citizens both along the border region and in the entire state. Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began his war on the drug cartels in 2006, according to law enforcement officials in Arizona, the percentage of hardened criminals that are illegally crossing the border through the Tucson Border Patrol Sector has increased to over 17 percent. The violence and destruction in our border region has reached levels that I have never witnessed in all the years I've had the privilege to represent Arizona in Congress. It has led some Arizonans to feel that they are living in a lawless territory where there is little or no consequence for the violation of their land, property and well-being. I have heard first hand of the fear and difficulties these individuals live with every day and I admire their courage. For years, I have demanded the federal government must do all it can within its power to curb this violence and protect its citizens from criminals coming across the Mexican border. Arizonans living throughout the state, but especially along the border, must feel safe and secure in their homes and on their property.
To combat illegal immigration, drug and human smuggling, and violent activity in the southwest Senator Jon Kyl and I have developed a comprehensive 10-point plan to secure our southern border. We must begin with the immediate deployment of 3,000 National Guard troops along the Arizona-Mexico border and simultaneously begin hiring and training an additional 3,000 Customs and Border Protection Agents to be permanently stationed in the region. Furthermore, we must fully fund Operation Streamline in all Arizona Border Patrol Sectors to put illegal border crossers in jail for up to 30 days with expenses paid for by the Federal government. Additionally, the Federal government must complete the 700 miles of fencing along the southern border.
Our plan is supported by law enforcement officers across the state of Arizona, including Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. Attached to this letter, I have included the full 10-point plan that Senator Kyl and I have developed. We intend to fight to see this plan implemented in its entirety as soon as possible.
It is true that some industries in Arizona continue to struggle without a sensible and fair temporary worker program. However, I believe that it would be irresponsible for Congress to take up any measure designed to address broader immigration issues while the security situation in Mexico continues to deteriorate. Before action on comprehensive immigration occurs the border must first be secured.
According to an April 14, 2010, Los Angeles Times article, the death toll from the Mexican government's three-year war on drug cartels is far higher than previously reported -- more than 22,000. This violence is an existential threat to the Mexican government and demands that we
secure our border immediately. I will continue to do everything within my ability to ensure the federal government fulfills its obligation to protect the citizens of Arizona from the dangerous criminal elements lurking on our southern border to ensure that every one's families, friends and neighbors can feel safe and secure in their homes.
Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. Please feel free to contact me on this or any other issue of concern.
United States Senator
Senators McCain and Kyl's Ten Point Border Security Action Plan
1) Immediately deploy 3,000 National Guard Troops along the Arizona/Mexico border, along with appropriate surveillance platforms, which shall remain in place until the Governor of Arizona certifies, after consulting with state, local and tribal law enforcement, that the Federal Government has achieved operational control of the border. Permanently add 3,000 Custom and Border Protection Agents to the Arizona/Mexico border by 2015.
2) Fully fund and support Operation Streamline in Arizona's two Border Patrol Sectors to, at a minimum, ensure that repeat illegal border crossers go to jail for 15 to 60 days. Where Operation Streamline has been implemented, the number of illegal crossings has decreased significantly. Require the Obama Administration to complete a required report detailing the justice and enforcement resources needed to fully fund this program. Fully reimburse localities for any related detention costs.
3) Provide $100M, an increase of $40M, for Operation Stonegarden, a program that provides grants and reimbursement to Arizona's border law enforcement for additional personnel, overtime, travel and other related costs related to illegal immigration and drug smuggling along the border.
4) Offer Hardship Duty Pay to Border Patrol Agents assigned to rural, high-trafficked areas, such as the CBP Wilcox and Douglas Stations in the Tucson Sector.
5) Complete the 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico and construct double- and triple- layer fencing at appropriate locations along the Arizona-Mexico border.
6) Substantially increase the 25 mobile surveillance systems and three Predator B Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in place today along the Arizona/Mexico border and ensure the border patrol has the resources necessary to operate the UAVs 24 hours a day seven days a week. Send additional fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to the Arizona-Mexico Border.
7) Increase funding for vital radio communications and interoperability between CBP and state, local, and tribal law enforcement to assist in apprehensions along the border.
8) Provide funding for additional Border Patrol stations in the Tucson Sector and explore the possibility of an additional Border Patrol sector for Arizona. Create six additional permanent Border Patrol Forward Operating Bases, and provide funding to upgrade the existing bases to include modular buildings, electricity and potable water. Complete construction of the planned permanent checkpoint in Arizona. Deploy additional temporary roving checkpoints and increase horse patrols throughout the Tucson Sector.
9) Require the Federal government to fully reimburse state and local governments for the costs of incarcerating criminal aliens. Start by at least funding the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) at its authorized level of $950 million.
10) Place one full-time Federal Magistrate in Cochise County and provide full funding for and authorization of the Southwest Border Prosecution Initiative to reimburse state, county, tribal, and municipal governments for costs associated with the prosecution and pre-trial detention of federally-initiated criminal cases declined by local offices of the United States Attorneys.
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